26 answers

Need Help with 8 Yr. Old's Messy Room

My daughter is 8 years old. She is wonderful, respectful and smart. She does almost everything I ask without a fight. She is a creative soul, something I am severely challenged in. I have tried to support her creativity by allowing her to use her room (almost) any way she wants. My problem is that she will not clean it up afterwards. I am not a neat freak by any stretch of the imagnation, but I do like a somewhat organized house. Her room is small and I worked hard to make sure there was place for everything. I try to let it go and remember that it is her space, and I need to be repectful of that. But after a while I lose it and end up angry at her. I feel like I am not being as consistent as I should be.

Should I just tell her I need it picked up each night, or just continually close the door and stay out of it.

1 mom found this helpful

What can I do next?

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No don't just close the door or she won't ever learn about organization. That could affect other areas of her work life, school life, etc. I think that she should have to have it picked up before dinnertime. If she's late picking it up and comes to dinner late then she goes to bed early by the same amount of minutes.

1 mom found this helpful

I think sometimes we all need someone to work with us. It can easily get overwhelming to a child especially. I'd let her pick out organizational items such as baskets, drawer organizers, hooks, etc. It makes it more fun. Go shopping together, then go in for a few minutes each night and make it quality time together. You may get more than a clean room out of it! You just need to develop a routine. If you feel like you are not being consistant, you are probably right. Repetition will be key to establishing a routine.

My son is also very creative and often he is in the middle of a project at the end of the day and wants to work on it when he has some free time. Some times it's several projects. We have a deal that every two weeks everything has to be put away or what ever is left out is donated to a worthy cause. I taught both my children early on how to clean there room so when it's time to clean up they do know where things go, and we always have a "junk drawer" for the misc. things. It works MOST of the time! :)

More Answers

No don't just close the door or she won't ever learn about organization. That could affect other areas of her work life, school life, etc. I think that she should have to have it picked up before dinnertime. If she's late picking it up and comes to dinner late then she goes to bed early by the same amount of minutes.

1 mom found this helpful

Your daughter is old enough to begin to develop good habits, physically and mentally. Practicing physical organization helps to develop mental organization. So for the sake of developing these skills, I believe that insisting that she "clean up" is a good practice.
It will benefit her for the rest of her life. If she knows how to organize, she will always have the choice to be neat or messy, and that give will give her a sense of freedom.
I suggest helping her for 15 minutes at the end of the day, when neither of you are too tired, so maybe just before dinner, or just after. Or you could focus on cleaning up at the completion of each project (difficult with a creative child).
Organization is not incompatible with creativity; it actually supports it because those two impulses create a balance.
While your daughter is 8 it is the ideal time to attempt the development of this habit, because when she is a teen-ager it will be too much of a struggle. Even the neatest and most organized children revert to extreme sloppiness during those years! But then comes young adulthood, and if he/she has developed the habits of neatness, organization and of cleaning up, it all comes back!
Good luck, G.

My daughter is also 8 and an absolute slob when it comes to her room (and elsewhere)! I call her my Hanzel and Gretel child because where ever she has been there is a breadcrumb of evidence that she has been there -- a gum wrapper, a juice bottle label. When we insisted she clean it up before she could do something she wanted, she "cleaned" her room. Her first "clean up" was putting everything somewhere -- under the bed, in her closet, in any drawer that was close. I'd find snips of paper or garbage in her drawers, dirty clothes in her toy drawers, books haphazardly on the bookcase or under the bed. It suddenly hit me -- she has NO organization skills. That has changed everything. The next time we cleaned her room together and talked about where everything could go. We organized everything in piles on her bed and then put everything away. Her room looked great for about a week, but she couldn't keep it up. I guess it's just the way her brain is. What finally worked is I wrote a chart for her to follow with step-by-step instructions and she gets points toward her allowance for the week if her room is clean that wee.. She follows the chart to the letter. It's very explicit: (1) take everything out from under the bed; (2) take everything out from the closet floor; (3) pick up dirty clothes and put them in the laundry; (4) pick up any garbage and throw it in the garbage can; (5) pick up books and put them on the bookcase; (6) pick up dolls and put them in the top drawer of the toy chest; etc. I labelled all the toy drawers to help her. We also put a sign on her wall that says, "If I take it out, I will remember to put it back where it goes." I'm not going to say it's a panacea, but her room is MUCH better! The moral of the story is not to punish a child for not having skills. You can offer rewards or punishments until the cows come home, but if the child doesn't have the skills, it doesn't matter -- it won't do anything except make them feel bad (or angry). It's the equivalent of punishing a child for not being able to do some type of math problems. You have to teach the skills they need to be successful.

I think sometimes we all need someone to work with us. It can easily get overwhelming to a child especially. I'd let her pick out organizational items such as baskets, drawer organizers, hooks, etc. It makes it more fun. Go shopping together, then go in for a few minutes each night and make it quality time together. You may get more than a clean room out of it! You just need to develop a routine. If you feel like you are not being consistant, you are probably right. Repetition will be key to establishing a routine.

I would teach her to clean up after herself now while you still can, I am struggling with three teenagers now because I did everything for them. Just have her straighten up after each project. THen, her room should not get so out of control.
W.

I think I would help her (coach, show, etc) clean her room a couple of times. She is still pretty young and may be a bit overwhelmed on where to start or what exactly needs to be done. After she has gotten the hang of it either use the deductable allowance idea that was presented or give her a deadline to clean the room (daily, weekly, what ever the two of you agree on). If she doesn't have her room cleaned by that time then you can clean her room and keep anything you pick up.

Hi,
I would have a sleep over with my daughter's friends, and this always prompt her to keep it clean :)

I took a parenting class and that topic came up a lot for some of the Moms including me. The speakers told us to pick our battles. They basically said if the child just wasn't cooperating, you may want to just leave well enough alone and close the door. In your case, you said your daughter is all around good except for that. I have 3 ages 16, 15 and 8. The 15 and 8 are boys and it is a constant problem. So instead of driving myself crazy, I close the door most of the times. When I can't take it any more, I refuse to do certain things for the 15 year old until the room is cleaned. I don't take him to the movies. I don't take him to practice. Basically all the things he loves to do comes to a halt until he cleans up the room. The clean room last maybe a week and then it is back to messy. I tolerate it for a few weeks, then we repeat the witholding of privileges. In the case of the 8 year old, he too don't get certain privileges until the room is picked up. The speakers basically suggested that if the safety of the child is not in question, then a lot of stuff we stress about, we should just let be. A clean room was one of those issues. D.

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